I forgot that I wanted to fake visit China in February in honor of the Chinese Lunar New Year, and by the time I remembered, I was already halfway through my Bollywood movie. So I’ll just have to do China next year for the year of the tiger. Because my sister was adopted from India, I grew up learning about the culture (and mostly hating the food); as a family, we’d attend an Indian cultural immersion summer camp every year. In some ways, my fake trip there felt familiar, but there were also some new experiences to enjoy. So I had a lot of fun, even though I forgot my original plan.
Meals: Lately, I’ve been working through a fantastic array of soups my friends have bought for me. So for lunch I tried Amy’s Golden Lentil: Indian Dal. I thought for sure I would hate it, but it was actually not too bad. It was also heavy on protein, which bumped my rating of it up to a 6 out of 10. That’s a good thing, because I have another can of it to eat at some point.
I’m not a fan of most Indian foods, because I find them far too spicy. Therefore, I knew this was going to be a challenge. Amy’s makes a curry that I absolutely love, so I bought that. I also discovered that there’s an Indian restaurant within walking distance of my house (I almost never eat out, so I’d never noticed it before; a few days later, my parents informed me that it’s new, so I felt a little better about not having known about it). For pickup, I ordered mo mo vegetables (vegetable dumplings) and onion kulcha (naan stuffed with onion). The dumplings turned out to be too spicy for me, though I managed to eat them all, grateful for the naan and a bottle of water. I was devastated (though not at all surprised) that the red curry that I like is actually Thai curry, not Indian curry. Oops! It was delicious and definitely the best part of the meal for me, but I’m glad that I bought actual Indian food to make up for my mistake.
Dessert: The dessert is really why I placed an order at the Indian restaurant in the first place: I wanted gulab jamun. I first had it when I was 9 years old and immediately fell in love with the milk balls in sugar-honey sauce. I found a few on Amazon that came in a can or in a mix, but all of those had been rated as not as good as the real thing. I found an Indian sweets store about 30 minutes away that sold it by the pound, but by the time I got it home and ate dinner, it would be cold (and I would have wasted an hour in driving time). So I took a chance at the restaurant near my house that had it. They were delicious, though there were only three pieces. I savored every single bite to make them last.
Book: I’ve had a copy of Holy Cow: An Indian Adventure by Sarah MacDonald on my To Be Read shelves for almost 10 years now, so this was the perfect time to actually start reading it. It’s a memoir by a journalist who has no interest in going back to India until her partner is sent there for work. She follows him there and reflects the adventures she has with religions, Bollywood stars, war zones, nightclubs, and more. I only got through a few chapters on my fake travel day, but I definitely enjoyed them and laughed a lot. I look forward to finishing the book this month.
Music: Once again, it seemed appropriate for me to use my workouts to dive into the music. I went through three Bollywood dance workouts, one I’d attempted before and two that were brand new to me: Bombay Jam Bollywood Dance Workout with Janani Chalaka + BollyX Bollywood Dance Workout with Shahil Patel + O Saki Saki Dance Workout with Emi Wong and Kritika. O Saki Saki was definitely stuck in my head the rest of the night after doing multiple rounds of that one. I’m a pretty terrible dancer, with little coordination and not an ounce of gracefulness, but I did find them all enjoyable. I might start putting more Bollywood dance workouts into my normal workout rotation.
Movie: Naturally, I had to choose a Bollywood movie. I found a list of the 40 Best Bollywood Movies on Netflix and honestly just chose the first one on the list. Shah Rukh Khan is known as the kind of Bollywood (King Khan!) so I had no problem choosing one of his movies… until I realized it was 3 hours long! Upon closer inspection, many of the Bollywood movies available were just as long. Are the many dance numbers to blame for such a long runtime? Or is it the fact that this movie had at least 4 different plots? Who knows? It took me longer than expected to finish the movie, but I had a fun time watching it. Main Hoon Na is the story of an army man, Major Ram, who has to go undercover as a university student to protect a general’s daughter from a soldier who wants to end the possible prisoner exchange between Pakistan and India. Coincidentally, he’s also able to work toward the promise he made his dying father to find his half-brother, because his brother goes to the same university. There’s a lot of sweet romance, family feels, kooky university culture, and also plenty of action scenes (and lots of dramatic flying through the air while firing a gun). I would definitely watch more!